Guest Blogger ~ M. R. Dimond

 I had the first three books of the Black Orchid Enterprises mysteries planned when I spied this cover at a premade cover event. I hadn’t ever considered buying a premade cover. How could the artist possibly know the story I would write or had written? I knew of one author who had her covers made and posted them where she could see them as she wrote. How could I take such a risk? 

Reader, I could and I did. It was meant to be. One of my main characters is a cat veterinarian who runs the town’s overflow animal shelter, meaning he provides a home for any homeless cat he comes across.

Book 1 of the series starts with Black Orchid Enterprises throwing a holiday open house to celebrate their new business in Beauchamp, TX. Some townspeople bring food; others bring unwanted kittens. Of course this glorious Sphynx cat could find his way there! And the gingerbread house? For their second year’s open house, our heroes host a gingerbread house display and contest. You can see how the invading cat earns the name Godzilla. I swept aside my plans to tell his story.

I’ve loved cats all my life, but I confess I warmed up to the Sphynx breed slowly. A hairless cat? Doesn’t everybody love soft, silky cat fur (except for those allergic to it)? But when two sets of naturally mutated hairless cats showed up in the 1970s, people did their best to produce more. Cat lovers with allergies appreciated them, but I wasn’t sold. The naked, wrinkly skin, big ears, and demonic expressions were the stuff of nightmares. I thought they looked closer to horror movie vampire bats than cats.

But years in cat rescue taught me that not every cat is pretty, healthy, or even friendly. But they’re all worth rescuing, even the ones that send you to the emergency room, and I’ve made friends with just about every cat I’ve met. Some want to cuddle; some keep their distance. It’s just a matter of getting to know them and honoring how they want to live.

The more Sphynx I met, the more I appreciated them. Despite their expressions, they tend to be affectionate and happy. For instance, the Sphynx on National Geographic’s October 2022 cover is said to be alert and relaxed. I’ll take their word for it.

To write this book, I drew heavily on my cat rescue experience, both funny and sad. I had friends with Sphynx cats who were always ready to tell me more stories about their pets. The internet, as usual, had a wealth of information about Sphynx and their special needs. They need to be bathed and oiled regularly. Their lack of fur means they feel the weather more. You often see them in sweaters and onesies in the winter. Some enjoy their styling little outfits. Others rip their clothes to shreds and prefer heating pads and blankets. 

The only problem with writing a cat mystery was knowing when to stop. I comforted myself with the reminder that there’s always the next book. Spoiler: Godzilla just might be back.

Cover by Mariah Sinclair
Cover by Mariah Sinclair

Book 2 of the Black Orchid Enterprises Mystery series finds Johnny Ly, Dianne Cortez, and JD Thompson trying to celebrate their first year in business in a small Central Texas town. The weather outside is frightful, and indoors isn’t looking too good either, not when a crazed hairless cat invades their Christmas party and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake.

The murder in the backyard doesn’t help, but Johnny and Dianne are more worried about the cat. After the police reduce the suspect list from the entire town of Beauchamp, Texas, to just the Black Orchids’ friends and family, Attorney JD Thompson springs into action to clear them all, preferably before Monday night’s concert. Life’s hard for a veterinarian, accountant, lawyer, and ABBA tribute band.

Author photo courtesy of Marjorie Farrell

After stints in professional orchestras, law firms, cat rescue, bookkeeping, and technical communication, M. R. Dimond returned to a childhood dream of writing fiction, which has turned out to be about musicians, lawyers, veterinarians, accountants, and cats. Watch for the next Black Orchid Enterprises mystery, Family Matters.